His new work is a marked departure, but don’t think for a second that Mark Bragg has mellowed out.
The musician who hails from St. John’s is now a Corner Brook resident after moving there last September.
Anyone who knows his music or has seen Bragg perform would be used to a style that oozes with an intense, unapologetic energy.
Now, here comes “Winter,” his latest album set for release March 30. It is a compilation of relatively softer fare for Bragg, replete with mostly piano and bass-rooted balladic tracks that explore more subtle themes like love and loss.
He has one song, “El Toreo,” available for free on his website now.
He said he could have gone one way or another with this, his fourth album.
“I was ready to make another album and I had a collection of energetic bar songs, which sort of has been my bread and butter,” he said. “But I also had this other collection that hadn’t found a home yet.”
He decided — rather than mix the two distinct pots of music into one sonic soup — to keep the more rocking songs for another time.
“I decided to double down on this singer-songwriter material and just see if I could pull it off,” he said. “It was a challenge to myself as much as than anything. In the end, I was happy with the result.”
The challenges go beyond hoping his fans will dig this approach. It also makes arranging live shows to support “Winter” a little trickier.
“I wouldn’t be doing the album the same service if I put my rocking band together and hit all the same bars I’ve been paying,” he said of his promotion plans.
The stylistic conundrum won’t stop Bragg. He has booked a solo piano show at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa in April and will be launching “Winter” at a release show scheduled for the Rotary Arts Centre theatre in Corner Brook in April.
He will finally get to have his cake and eat it too when he releases the album in St. John’s next month. He will perform “Winter” to open the evening at The Ship Pub before launching into his more raucous party set with his band, The Butchers, later in the night.
“That’s one way around it,” he said. “You have to be a bit creative about it, but I’m looking forward to the challenge that presents.”
While much of the recording of “Winter,” including all the vocals, were done at his home in Corner Brook, the writing of the material was done before Bragg moved to the west coast.
He expects his new home will inspire some material in the future.
Corner Brook’s music scene may not have the vibrancy of St. John’s when it comes to live performances of original music, but Bragg said he doesn’t mind that at all.
“Most of what I do I can do anywhere, in terms of writing, recording, promotions and those kinds of things,” he said. “In terms of playing live, it’s actually kind of fun to be based out of somewhere else.”
Bragg has promoted one event since moving to Corner Brook and it went quite well. That bar, The Landing, is no longer open, but he is sure he can convince other venues in the Corner Brook area to give more original musicians like himself the opportunities to play gigs.
“It takes a bit of hustle around here, but I don’t mind that,” he said.
***This article was edited 05-03-2018 to accurately spell Haynes in the photo caption.
Upcoming show dates for Mark Bragg
March 29: The Ship, St. John’s
March 31: Fred’s Records, St. John’s
April 6: The Backlot, Corner Brook
April 13: Rotary Arts Centre, Corner Brook
April 21: National Arts Centre, Ottawa
April 28: Cottage Hospital, Norris Point
May 25: The Cat Stop, Norris Point
Nov 24: Citadel House, Lewisporte
Source: Mark Bragg